The Public Theater asked me to read Misha in Place, a new play by Natal’ya Vorozhbit as part of their festival of new plays, New Works Now. Place is part of The Boardwalk Trilogy: The Brighton Beach Brooklyn Plays. In June 2012, three Russian speaking playwrights lived in residency in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brighton Beach, hosted by the Public Theater. They wrote plays about emigrants who fled the former Soviet Union and formed their own community on the Brooklyn shorefront. The resulting plays are The Boadwalk Trilogy: Black Body by Mikhail Durnenkov, Emigrants by Pavel Pryazhko, and Place by Natal’ya Vorozhbit.
After three short days of rehearsal, rewrites from Natal'ya and her translator Sasha Dugdale, we performed Place at the end of a marathon evening that included all three plays. I played Misha, a 27 year-old who lives his mother, a drug dealer as a teenager who is now studying to be a dentist. Working on Misha was challenging and ultimately quite a bit of fun, not the kind of character I usually play (think Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad, but with a Brooklyn accent). Four time Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh played Zhanna, my mother.
The Friday before we started rehearsals, I biked out to Brighton Beach to do a little research. Several of my scenes took place at Volna, a restaurant on the boardwalk with a view of the ocean. I had a Baltika draft beer and dinner, then biked back to Washington Heights.